Sunday, July 7, 2013

Let freedom ring

It was the evening of July 4th. After a family dinner, Gary and I decided we had seen enough fireworks to last us a lifetime. In other words, we really didn't feel like going anywhere because we are getting old and boring. So we didn't. Well, he didn't. I went for my standard evening run.

As I crested the last hill before venturing down the now darkened, rocky driveway, I was startled to
see no less than four different spots on the skyline lit up in the night sky. The subsequent "booms" followed shortly thereafter. I stood in the middle of the deserted country road just watching and waiting for the next round. All I had to do was scan above the treetops in an 180 degree arc. It was an unexpected treat and my private way of celebrating the 4th.

That got me thinking. 1776. Independence Day. Freedom. The birth of a nation. Pretty cool stuff. This freedom allows its citizens privileges too numerous to mention despite recent infringements by a swollen and controlling government. (Yes. That is an editorial-type comment.) Still, compared to many nations around the globe, we are free because a very steep price had been paid; a price that had flowed rivers of red. Freedom is simply not possible without the shedding of bright red blood.

We take freedom for granted. We venture off at whim's notice to the store for milk, the mall for a little shopping, church on Sunday mornings, and if we're lucky, to the beach for a summer getaway. We can get up when we want and go to bed at will. We load the refrigerator shelves and then consume its contents when stomach churning can no longer be ignored. In want of fresh air? Open the door and step out. Need a change of scenery? Walk down the road.

Now think of a prisoner in jail. He doesn't have the same kind of freedom. That's why they call it jail. He can go nowhere. He eats on schedule. He wakes up when the lights go on and reclines on the paper-thin mattress they call his bunk at the appointed time. He occupies his days with books and idle chat. Every so often, he might have a visitor from the outside. But that relished brief encounter, conducted with a thick pane of glass between, simply emphasizes his lack of freedom.

Or does it? Who is more free? The visitor or the inmate? In a physical sense the answer is obvious. But let's be clear. There are plenty of us who roam around unfettered that are anything but free. So that begs the question. What is real freedom?

Remember Dr. Luke of the first century? He recounts the story (Luke chapter 4) of how Jesus went into the synagogue, unrolled a scroll and read the words of the prophet Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

Then the Lord states, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Really? Prisoners set free? Blind people made to see? How can this be?

The truth. The truth is what brings freedom. The believing Jews didn't quite understand Jesus' instructions: "If you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 4:31, 32).

"But, but...we don't get it," they cried. "We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" (8:33) See? It's not that they were in a literal prison or under house arrest. The problem is they they (as are we) were prisoners to sin because sin steals freedom.

So what did Jesus say to address their puzzlement? "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

Ah. It looks like Jesus was teaching that true freedom comes as a result of son-ship. No son status means no freedom because sin binds, sin separates, sin holds captive. In order to be free, we must be a blood relative of Jesus Christ. Without the shedding of Christ's blood, there is no remission on sin (Romans 3:25). 

Can a walking-around citizen actually be imprisoned? Can the inmate in jail be free? Absolutely.
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Praise God. Free at last! Free at last!


Sarah Lynn said...

I absolutely enjoyed this post! I think until we recognize that we do, in fact, have sin in our lives and that we are bound to it (as in not so much a general "I am a sinner" so much as a specific sin that we simply cannot overcome and experience that feeling of bondage to it) we neither truly desire freedom nor take hold of the gospel to the same extent. The person in jail knows they're in jail, but humanity as a whole has no idea it's in bondage to anything like sin other than through the outright existence of evil. Compared to the "really evil" people, we might not look so bad and not see the need for salvation from it or be aware that a completely different and better life is available to us.
Praise God for the gospel of freedom and new life! :)

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Thank you, Sarah Lynn. I really appreciate your comments. You are absolutely correct that many of us are blind to the fact that sin binds. We think we are free do do as we please when in essence, we are much like a train that has jumped the track. A derailed train goes nowhere despite good intentions. It is only the train that submits to the authority of the track that has all the freedom in the world. Likewise, once we submit to the authority of Jesus Christ and are covered by his blood, we have freedom of heart and soul.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

PS, Sarah Lynn. I noticed that your were a NCCA athlete. You might be particularly interested in the "Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train" books.

Follow the yellow lines

Jack in his younger days "Well, you know I can't live here by myself. I'm moving in with you." I guess he was serious....